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Charlie Hatton
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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
If you're a science and/or silliness fan, give it a gander! See you soon!

I Think We Should See Other Burritos

(For those of you who bother with that holiday looming on the December horizon, you can find me infused with Christmas spirit over at If that’s your sort of thing.)

So, I mentioned a few days ago that I’ve decided to change jobs. Luckily, I found a new one to swap with.

That’s kind of the important part, really. It’s like exchanging gifts at the mall. If you go in with something and you’re there to trade, then you need to leave with something similar in value. If you leave empty-handed, it’s a failure. Ditto for ‘store credit’. Also, if you go in with a gold watch, and come out with an aluminum toaster. Not a win.

Luckily, as I said, I managed to make the exchange. It’s official and everything. So I’ve started telling people. In fact, I’ve almost finished telling people. I told the people I work with now. And I told the people I’m going to work with soon.

(Again, that’s kind of an important part. Also important that they don’t laugh in your face or do a spit-take when you tell them you accept the job. That would be an ‘off on the wrong foot’ sort of thing.)

I told my wife, because that’s just the sort of close-knit sharing relationship we have. And I told my parents, and quite a few of my friends. A lot of people, as it turns out.

But there’s one person I haven’t told. It’s been a week, and I just don’t know how to break the news to him. I’m not sure I can, frankly. Not to this guy.

He’s my lunchtime burrito shack guy.

What’s the big deal about leaving your lunch vendor? For most people, none. For me, it’s a Big Deal. With a capital ‘B’, and a ‘D’ on salsa-fried steroids.

Here’s the thing. Lunch is sort of a different animal for me. I have a singular strategy for my workday midday meal. As I mentioned a few months ago:

Find greasy joint of dubious nutritional benefit. Order same lunch every day. Eat lunch. Digest. Rinse. Repeat.

“I’m not a picky eater. I’ll put things in my mouth at the dinner table that you wouldn’t let your neighbor’s cat get too close to.”

I’m not a picky eater. I’ll put things in my mouth at the dinner table that you wouldn’t let your neighbor’s cat get too close to. But lunch at the office is different. This is no time for pleasure, or creativity or hope or variety. You’re on the job to have your soul slowly crushed beneath you, and lunch is an important part of the process. Eating exactly the same thing every single day, day in and day out, has its advantages.

Mostly, those advantages involve not standing in line, or having to bother remembering what my order is. Instead, by the time I’ve moseyed up near the counter, the food is half-prepped. They take the money and hand me a burrito bag, and everyone’s happy. They get a customer, and I at least avoid the danger of standing in a long lunch line, where I might accidentally reflect on where I’ve gotten myself to and the nowhere my life is probably heading, which would in turn lead me to try to drown myself in a nearby Subway ranch dressing tub.

So I see this burrito guy a lot. I mean, a lot. But come 2012, I’ll be seeing him not at all any more. My next job isn’t even in the same town. I’ll be looking for a new burrito guy, and this one will be cast ingloriously aside.

I’m pretty sure this is the big disaster those Mayans were talking about a while back, frankly. All the pieces fit. It’s the Tacoshackpocalypse. Get yer T-shirts now.

The sad thing is, this guy’s going to be devastated. Not because it’s me leaving, in particular. I mean, I am unforgettable, sure. But that’s less in a ‘first love who got away’ sense, and more in a ‘I’d know that asshole’s face anywhere’ sort of way.

More likely, it’s the financial hit they’ll feel. Let’s face it — how well can they possibly be doing financially? This is an independent burrito shop in a medical center food court. They’re not a chain. They don’t have the power of a charismatic spokeschihuahua to keep them going. And there’s literally competition on all sides. They need every dime they can get. And I run like the German trains through that place — five days a week, always on time, with precious few exceptions, whether I need it or not.

(Come to think of it, that’s just about how their burritos run through me. It’s all circles within circles, man. Circles within circles.)

So at some point, I’ve got to break the bad news. Maybe I’ll blurt it out on my last day, or leave them a ‘Dear Juan’ note in the tip jar. Or I’ll have someone else go down in January to say, ‘Oh, that guy? No, he’s loooooong gone now, pardner.

Or maybe I’ll tell them tomorrow, if the time is right — and my burrito is already safely in hand. No way am I dropping a bomb before they deliver the daily bag. There’s no telling what I’d get for lunch. Hell hath no fury like a burrito shack worker scorned.

On the other hand, I’m excited about this job — a new group, in a new neighborhood, new work and new possibilities. Also, a new burrito shack. So that’ll be nice. I’ll be a regular in no time, and it’ll be just like the old days.

Until a few years (hopefully!) down the road, when I have to leave this new job for some reason. And then I’ll have to worry about telling that burrito guy good bye. Sheesh. It’s almost enough to make a man bring a brown bag to work.

Yeah. Almost.

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